A bag of peanuts and a baseball on an old wooden bench at the ballpark. (Getty Images)Nevada’s sports books set a record for sports wagering volume at $558.4 million in September. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
On the day fans nationwide rejoiced in the return of Major League Baseball to the field, the Nevada Gaming Commission celebrated by affirming a commonly misunderstood baseball betting policy.
Commissioners on Thursday officially rescinded a commission order from August 1985 prohibiting licensed sportsbooks from accepting wagers on pro baseball teams based in Nevada or on pro baseball games played in the state.
The order became obsolete last month when commissioners approved amendments to Regulation 22 on the operation of race books and sports pools, but because it stayed on the books as a specific order, the commission had to vote to rescind it.
Previously, Major League Baseball teams were allowed to petition the Gaming Control Board to take games or entire seasons off the betting boards.
Now, Nevada bettors can wager on any professional games.
Even though petitioning the board for game removal had been stricken, Major League Baseball last month requested that spring training games be disallowed. Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Morgan politely rejected the request.
“There’s no appetite to ever say to any professional team we’re not going to book your bets,” Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said Thursday after the 1985 order was removed.
Commissioner Philip Pro joked that he thought that request must have come from Kenesaw Mountain Landis, named baseball’s first commissioner after the notorious “Black Sox Scandal” in 1919.
Actually, the 1985 request came during the era of Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.
“We’ve worked too hard on the integrity, so how hypocritical would that be if a professional league — MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL — would come and say, ‘Hey, we know you do a great job and gaming is above reproach, but don’t do our home games?’” Alamo said. “That goes against the whole paradigm.”
Jay Kornegay, vice president of sports operations at the Westgate, said there isn’t much demand to bet pro baseball games in Nevada. That would mainly involve minor league baseball’s Las Vegas Aviators (formerly the 51s) or spring training games played in Las Vegas for Big League Weekend.
Kornegay said Westgate has taken some spring training bets, but the demand usually is extremely low. He said it’s not that bettors aren’t interested in practice games, as his book sees action on preseason NFL football and the NBA’s Summer League games played in Las Vegas.
It’s just that there is a limited number of people interested in betting on baseball and even fewer who care about baseball exhibition games, he said.
But Alamo said the option to book or not to book rests with the companies.
“We’re going to book every game the sportsbooks want to do because it’s their choice,” Alamo said. “Obviously, if it doesn’t have a lot of action, they won’t book it.”
In other business Thursday, the commission unanimously approved a series of licenses for Las Vegas-based CG Technology as a contracted sports book operator. Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said the company would be on a short leash with regulators because of a history of regulatory violations that have resulted in the company being fined nearly $9 million since 2014 involving three state Gaming Control Board complaints. The board approved the transfer of 10 percent of the company from former executive Lee Amaitis and investor Stephen Merkel to the corporation. Key executive licenses also were approved for Chief Financial Officer Nicholas Cappelleri.
Commissioners also approved a manufacturing and distribution license for a tiny California Indian tribe to produce skill-based slot machine games in Nevada.
The 12-member Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians of Palm Desert, California, was approved for its Synergy Blue LLC to develop arcade games into slot machines.
Licenses for Tribal Chairperson Amanda Vance and Synergy Blue CEO Georg Washington also were approved. The company expects to hire 31 employees in Las Vegas for its new outlet.
Richard N. Velotta at or. Follow on Twitter.